Let us first begin with understanding what the term “jury” mean. Jury, juror or the jury pool are a carefully selected group of people who are legally on oath to accept to hear evidences and facts in a court of law and provide an impartial judgment. Such judgement is unanimously agreed upon by the jurors and submitted to the court to assist it with meting out a fair judgement or penalty. Now, jurors are only selected in a jury trial. Now, what is a jury trial? A jury trial or a trial by jury is a legal proceeding in which a jury decides the outcome of a case. This differs from a bench trial in which a single or panel of judges solely are responsible to decide the final verdict.
Each country has their own unique way of carrying forward legal proceedings. Countries that follow the common law system make use of jury trials. This would be countries like: United States of America, Canada, England, and Australia. However, there are also countries that do follow the common law jurisdiction but have abolished the same, this would be countries like: India, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Singapore. In addition to this there are Islamic states that not at all follow the jury system and strictly follow their personal laws.
“Only the United States makes routine use of jury trials in a wide variety of non-criminal cases. Other common law legal jurisdictions use jury trials only in a very select class of cases that make up a tiny share of the overall civil docket (like malicious prosecution and false imprisonment suits in England and Wales), but true civil jury trials are almost entirely absent elsewhere in the world. Some civil law jurisdictions, however, have arbitration panels where non-legally trained members decide cases in select subject-matter areas relevant to the arbitration panel members’ areas of expertise.”
TYPES OF CASES HEARD BY THE JURORS
Criminal and Civil trials are the only two types of cases that are heard front of a jury.
- Criminal trial: “An individual is accused of committing a crime that is considered against the society a whole. Twelve people, and alternates, make up a criminal jury. A unanimous decision must be reached before a defendant is found “guilty.” The government must prove the crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt. Guilty pleas and plea negotiations reduce the need for juries in criminal cases.
- Civil trial: Litigants seek remedies for private wrongs that don’t necessarily have a broader social impact. At least six people make up a civil jury. The jury must come to a unanimous decision unless specified otherwise. The standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. Settlement negotiations reduce the need for juries in civil cases.”
“The right to trial by jury in criminal cases is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as the laws of every state. Lawyers and judges select juries by a process known as “voir dire,” which is Latin for “to speak the truth.” In voir dire, the judge and attorneys for both sides ask potential jurors questions to determine if they are competent and suitable to serve in the case. Errors during jury selection are common grounds for appeal in criminal cases.”
The below points provide a generic idea on how the selection process is caried on:
- Once in the courtroom, the prospective jurors are requested to swear that they will truthfully answer all questions about their qualifications to serve as jurors in the case. The perjury admonishment is then stated, which basically requires potential jurors to tell the truth when answering any questions:
“Do you, and each of you, understand and agree that you will accurately and truthfully answer, under penalty of perjury, all questions propounded to you concerning your qualifications and competency to serve as a trial juror in the matter pending before this Court and that failure to do so may subject you to criminal prosecution?”
- The judge and the lawyers may excuse individual jurors from service for various reasons. If a lawyer wants to have a juror excused, he or she must use a “challenge” to excuse the juror. Challenges can be “for cause” – meaning that a reason is stated – or “peremptory” – meaning that no reason need be stated.
- The process of questioning and excusing jurors continues until 12 persons are accepted as jurors for the trial. Alternate jurors may also be selected. The judge and attorneys agree that these jurors are qualified to decide impartially and intelligently the factual issues in the case. When the selection of the jury is complete, the jurors agree to the following oath:
“Do you, and each of you, understand and agree that you will well and truly try the cause now pending before this Court and a true verdict render according only to the evidence presented to you and to the instructions of the Court?”
- As a juror you should think seriously about this oath before taking it. The oath means you have given your word that you will reach your verdict based only upon the evidence presented in the trial and the Court’s instructions about the law. You cannot consider any evidence or instructions other than those given by the Court in the case before you. Remember that your role as a juror is as important as the judge’s in making sure that justice is done.
REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME A JUROR
- One must be at least 18 years of age and above,
- They must be a citizen of the United States,
- Must hold a driver license and or identification card.
- In the case of United States Vs. Zucker, 161 U.S. 475 (1896), court held “In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”
- M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra,
- “The above-mentioned case is what led to not only the abolition of the jury system in India but altered the nature of India’s judicial system. In this case K. M. Nanavati was the commander of the Indian navy and the jury opted to exonerate Nanavati, who was accused of murdering his wife’s boyfriend. This decision was thought to have been influenced heavily by the media.
- It is frequently argued that one of the key reasons for the discontinuation of jury trials in India was the jury’s failure to convict Nanavati. The jury’s integrity was seriously questioned by the fact that they were persuaded by the sympathy displayed by the media. The expression “three shots that startled the nation” came into circulation describing the “self-defense” as in the navy. Although Nanavati himself turned himself into the police, the jury found him not guilty due to the claim that the murder was committed in the “heat of the moment.” It is frequently asserted that the jurors in the case at hand were not “the right people,” but rather were stupid and corruptible. K. N. Wanchoo, who was then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and later served on the Allahabad High Court, stated that there were not “enough of the suitable sort of people” in the State to serve as jurors in an influential report from Uttar Pradesh published in 1950.”
Clearly both Judge and the Jury work together in meting out fair and impartial judgement and to see that no accused goes scot-free, and no innocent is put behind bars. Judges are usually under a lot of pressure especially during a high-profile case. Cases like O J Simpsons, Ted Bundy’s criminal trial, Murder of Gabriel Fernandez. The judge and the jury are co-dependent on each other and actively work together in a case. The judge determines, applies, and instructs the jury on what the applicable laws are in each case. After which, the jury concludes their verdict solely based on facts, evidence produced during the trial and the law, penalty provisions exist therein. Jury trials can teach us more about the human psyche, society in general than textbooks ever can. A novel that has a well written courtroom thriller too can get the reader gasping for more. It’s only natural for law and budding students who are fascinated by the judicial system workings often opt for litigation as their respective career fields. It is not often just the thrill of the courtroom but also consider this that you get to understand how the mind of a notorious criminal work.
 Jury trial - Wikipedia  Learn About Jury Service | United States Courts (uscourts.gov)  How Are Jurors Selected in Criminal Cases? | Nolo  The point smentioned therein was retreived from: Selection Process | Superior Court of California | County of Stanislaus  United States v. Zucker :: 161 U.S. 475 (1896) :: Justia US Supreme Court Center  JURY TRIALS: AN ANALYSIS - Prime Legal